Ab Intra: Reflections From Within by CooperRiis residents

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It’s been said that internal work is the hardest work we’ll ever do.
The path toward achieving balance, empowerment and mental well-being in our lives can be slow, difficult, uneven – full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
Just up the road from Tryon, in Mill Spring, is CooperRiis healing community, an almost 100-acre farm where residents participate in a comprehensive program that helps navigate this challenging internal terrain by addressing the mind, body, spirit and heart.
Using the Enhanced Recovery Model created by CooperRiis Institute Director Sharon Young, PhD, the focus is on wellness, not illness; individuality, not diagnosis; possibility, not pathology; and it all begins by nurturing the flickering spark of hope for a better life.
“Ab Intra: Reflections From Within,” the current exhibition at Upstairs Artspace, which runs through Nov. 15, reflects the uniquely individual journeys of 11 resident and staff artists from CooperRiis. From bold acrylic paintings to nuanced photography, from detailed illustrations to exquisite textiles and life-sized sculptures, much of the work is intensely personal and powerfully evocative.
Within the first month at CooperRiis, residents are coached to create a “Dream Statement” which serves as the road map for the core goals and objectives they wish to achieve – dreams they may have thought were left behind. By developing connectedness, community and a sense of purpose through work and responsibility for one another, as well as an emphasis on physical and spiritual wellbeing, residents come to recognize that mental health recovery is not a linear journey, but a cyclical process.
One of the many ways in which CooperRiis residents challenge themselves is through the exploration of their creativity. It’s been shown that a willingness to tap into and release creative energy is helpful to the healing process as a powerful mode of nonverbal self-expression, and CooperRiis provides its residents ample means.
Located within the CooperRiis community is the Art Barn, a large well-appointed facility that provides space and materials for painting and drawing, printmaking, pottery, textiles, photography and sculpture.
Resident artist Emma Shew, schooled in art education, and volunteer Kevin Rogerson, schooled in studio arts, offer programs in book art, bookbinding, collaborative journaling, papermaking, painting, pottery and more. Local artists are also encouraged to take advantage of volunteer opportunities at CooperRiis to conduct workshops and classes.
The focus is on individual empowerment and residents are invited to explore whatever medium for which they show an affinity, or none at all. At CooperRiis, there are numerous areas – from cooking to gardening to animal care – from which passion and creativity emerge.
But in many cases, participants who had never before applied themselves to creative endeavors develop a life-long vocation for pursuing artistic expression.
– article submitted by Tom Madison

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